Pets & Animals

Grateful lion pounces on human rescuer... and gives him a big hug

What you're watching is Valentin Gruener getting a 110-pound "thanks!" from Sirga the lioness, whom he helped raise from cubhood after her pack turned her away. She currently lives at Gruener's Modisa Wildlife Project, which is based in Botswana, Africa.

If Sirga's affectionate reaction jars your memory a bit, you might be recalling Christian the lion, whose story went viral in 2009 when a video of his emotional reunion with his human "parents" surfaced. Christian's story dates to the 1960s, but it was a clip from the end of a documentary about their story that revived the tale on YouTube and showed us all that lions are a little like elephants — they never forget.

Be sure to watch this amazing clip from 2009, when the Australians who helped Christian visited TODAY!

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